On Fire is widely recognized as the canonic pinnacle of Galaxie 500's career. The artwork conveys this, with a low-angle shot of the band, looking up towards an amber sky. This record marked the realization of their signature sound. Nowhere is it clearer than on the album opener, "Blue Thunder," the closest a song can come to waves crashing on a beach in song form. Lyrically inconsequential, with a chorus composed entirely of "la"s, the track's power lies in a systematic build and break of intensity that reaches a Spector-like climax. It is the quintessential Galaxie 500 song, encapsulating all that was great about the band. With the Boston trio once again utilizing the bizarre genius of producer Mark Kramer, On Fire sounds like anything but. The guitars are warm blankets enwrapping Dean Wareham's vocals, percolated by the open percussion of Damon Krukowski and anchored by the emotion-laden bass of Naomi Yang. Songs like "Snowstorm," "Strange," and "Decomposing Trees" have an endless quality, without beginnings or ends, but rather frozen somewhere on a spectrum of melancholy. A bonus CD contains Galaxie 500's legendary Peel Sessions--essential live recordings from the group at the peak of their powers. Split between two sessions, the band plays their quintessential songs while masterfully blending in covers of the Sex Pistols, Young Marble Giants, Buffy St. Marie, and Jonathan Richman. Never afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve, the Peel Sessions exhibit Galaxie 500 as a band most interested in creating a mood, complicating it, and following wherever it leads.
item # 32290